FRIENDS of Collector chairman Tony Hodgson has vowed to continue his fight against a $350 million wind energy project that, if approved, would see turbines placed 2kms from his house.
The renewed pledge comes just days after proponent RATCH-Australia lodged its Submissions Report and Preferred Project Report to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
The company has reduced the proposed number of generators to 63 following last year’s public exhibition, removing five from the northeast of the project site to reduce “the overall impact on flora and fauna” and ensure that “any impact on local residences is minimised”.
However, Mr Hodgson is far from satisfied by the response, saying if they really want to minimise the proposal’s environmental impact, they won’t go ahead with it.
“If they took out 68 turbines it would be a good thing,” he said.
The Collector resident told the Post he had been completely dissatisfied by the state government’s handling of the process up to this point. He said there had been no consultation between the Department of Planning and those who launched written objections and that the attitude of government ministers and representatives was clear; they simply “didn’t care”.
He believed our leaders would have a different view of the wind energy debate if the turbines were being placed on Sydney’s northern beaches. He said Premier Barry O’Farrell wasn’t showing any leadership on the matter and that he was negating both his responsibility to the electorate and his election commitment to overhaul the energy approval process.
“He was put in to clean up Labor’s mess but he hasn’t! What has he done about wind farms?” he said.
Mr Hodgson believed that a number of reports the government was relying on were incorrect and that history would see both wind energy and coal seam gas viewed in the same light as asbestos and tobacco.
As part of its preferred submission, RATCH Australia has made changes to allow for Transgrid’s preferred substation location and grid connection.
When the Collector Wind Farm proposal was put on public display it attracted 140 submissions and identified a number of key concerns, including the impact the development would have on property values; degradation of aesthetic appeal of the region; noise; impacts on natural flora and fauna; interference with aviation and serious health concerns.
In a press statement, a company spokesperson pointed out that almost half of the submissions were in favour of the project.
“It was great to see that so many people recognise the benefits of our project and put in supportive submissions but the main focus of our work since the public exhibition has been to understand and respond to the submissions that express concerns about our project,” RATCHAustralia’s project director Anthony Yeates said.
“We are confident that these issues have been appropriately considered and addressed in our proposal. For example, we have confirmation from the NSW Department of Health that our Environmental Assessment appears to comprehensively address any potential public health issues particularly in regards to noise and shadow flicker, and we can confirm that there are no red flashing lights proposed for the Collector wind farm.”
The project is currently being assessed by Department of Planning.
“This fight isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination,” Mr Hodgson vowed.
“I’m going to give them one hell of a fight. I don’t consider it to be a done deal at all.”
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